Today's announcement by NHS England boss Simon Stevens reveals the scale of pressure on service demands, as health services are told to relax focus on the 18 week targets for guaranteed treatment. The move signals a retreat for the NHS down south away from elective treatment to focus on the worrying decline in key emergency/high acuity services such as A+E & oncology services. On key targets such as the 4-hour waiting time, Scotland has persistently outperformed the sister NHS services often by upwards of 10%.
In Scotland the recognition of the increased demand on elective services likely to be faced by our health service has been indentified and planned for in the form of the 6 new elective treatment centres planned for and paid by a £200m cash injection by the Scottish Government. With a shift in our demographics towards an aging population the move hopes to future-proof elective care in Scotland; with an aim to provide improved access to joint replacement, cataract removals and other forms of elective treatment often in high demand.
Scotland has led the way in recent years in innovating for this changing demographic; with free and integrated health and social care, improved access to elective services and the planned changes to primary care delivery. The piloting of integrated health and social care in England being undertaken by several large Foundation Trusts, can be seen as a move to emulate the benefits of this experience in Scotland, and we would hope that the NHS services elsewhere in the U.K. would look into our proposed model of elective care provision as a means of ensuring parity of services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Having seen the benefits of these improvement in Scotland, our record on effective planning for the future should be used as a model of care planning throughout the U.K.